The twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was held from 7 to 18 November 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco. With the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, COP 22 was momentous as it served as the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1).
For UN Women, the Paris Agreement is historic and an important milestone. It is the first universal climate change agreement to call on Parties to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women when taking actions to address climate change. The Paris Agreement also calls on Parties to implement gender-responsive adaptation and capacity-building actions. These commitments from the Paris Agreement, together with numerous earlier decisions that call for gender-specific action across the different areas of work of the Parties to the Convention, provide a strong foundation for truly gender-responsive climate actions and centrally embed women’s and girls’ needs, interests, and contributions in this work.
At COP 22, Parties adopted a decision on an enhanced work programme on gender. This presents a unique opportunity to build on the gains in advancing gender equality and on improving women’s participation in the UNFCCC processes. In its submission on the key elements of a decision on an enhanced work programme on gender, UN Women called for a comprehensive work programme on gender that will ensure the systematic integration of a gender perspective in all areas of climate-related work, and for the full, equal, and effective participation of women in climate policy making and programme implementation at all levels.
UN Women also presented Flagship Programme Initiatives that most directly address the nexus of gender equality and climate change, namely those on energy, climate resilient agriculture, and gender inequality of risk. While the gender-differentiated impact of climate change on women is well understood and recognized in both climate literature and increasingly in the safeguard arrangements of climate investments, the contributions of women as agents of change in scaling up climate action are often overlooked.
Women’s participation is marginalized when they are categorized solely as a “vulnerable group”. This categorization only emphasizes their needs, while their participation and leadership in accelerating the adoption of renewable energy technologies and climate-smart agricultural practices, promoting sustainable transport and urban development, and acting to reduce and respond to climate-related disaster risks remain unmeasured, unnoticed, and unsupported.